A better way to plan your travels
routeRANK, an EPFL start-up website in the Parc Scientifique allowing users to find the best way to their destination according to personalized criteria, has been chosen as a Microsoft Start-up of the Day for November 19th. Using a unique algorithm, the start-up’s founder and chairman Jochen Mundiger created an intelligent way to plan one’s trips that takes into account public transportation, car and air travel, while also giving you the CO2 emissions for those who wish to consider the ecological impact of their travels.
An intelligent search engine website that allows the user to decide the best route according to time, cost, or even carbon dioxide emissions, routeRANK combines several possibilities of travel all in one platform – train, plane, and automobile routes are displayed in all their combinations and then ranked accordingly. “The algorithm focuses on the ‘interesting’ routes and drops the uninteresting ones,” says Jochen, “In a way, it is similar to a chess computer, in that it does not calculate all the possible moves, but only the promising ones.” Furthermore, routeRANK has a web-based widget that easily integrates into a website or blog, allowing users to plan their trips directly from their homepage.
routeRANK was born in June 2006 in Lausanne, Switzerland, when Jochen Mundinger, a researcher at EPFL, attempted to plan a conference trip from Lausanne to a lesser known location. Following a thorough but ultimately unsuccessful search for helpful websites, the mathematician and computer scientist decided to tackle the problem himself. Equipped with a proprietary algorithmic solution and a first business plan, he was awarded an EPFL Innogrant for routeRANK in October 2006. By early 2007, Jochen had recruited support network and team, and a first closed beta version was completed for July 2007. Towards the end of the year, routeRANK became a Swiss Limited (SA/AG), moved its offices to the Parc Scientifique (PSE) at EPFL, and was awarded an R&D project by the Swiss Confederation’s innovation promotion agency (CTI).In 2008, routeRANK continued to grow and gain recognition, both in industry and outside. For example, Dr Klaus Töpfer, former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), endorses routeRANK as: “ … an intelligent tool that will allow users to make an informed, carbon conscious decision for specific journeys and travel routes. This system will make informed travel choices possible which are not only cost- and time-efficient but also benefit the environment.” Having won the Venture Leaders and Venture Kick competitions, in September 2008 routeRANK was selected as one of the four finalists in the PICNIC Green Challenge, and in November 2008, it was the laureate of the 2008 KPMG Tomorrow’s Market Award. More recently, besides being chosen as Start-up of the day, routeRANK has been selected as a finalist in the Academic Enterprise Awards 2009 (ACES) competition in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) category. “It is a pleasure to be recognized for what we are doing here at the PSE on the EPFL campus,” says Jochen. The ACES focus on university enterprise across Europe and furthers efforts to improve the flow of ideas out of European laboratories and into the marketplace. The ACES gala will occur at Paris’ celebrated Hôtel de Ville (city hall) on the 10th of December. Furthermore, routeRANK has a web-based widget that easily integrates into a website or blog, allowing users to plan their trips directly from their homepage with preset criteria if desired.